Benchmarking your hard drive

ATTO - “The industry’s leading provider of high-performance storage connectivity products” has great products and an excellent benchmarking utility that measures your hard drive’s I/O read/write ability.

Here’s a quick look at a laptop with Windows 7 vs. Server 2008 R2

Dell’s latest 5520 inspiron laptop
6 Gb Memory
500 Gb (Seagate)

Benchmarking

Results

Results2

Server 2008 R2 Custom
8 Gb RAM
2 TB Seagate Hard drive

BenchmarkingServer

Results

ResultsServer

Also see our #1 post on Hard Drive Benchmarking (other utilites)

Defraggler 2.09

I’ve used Defraggler before and gave up on it because of its performance.   Now Defraggler by Piriform may be worth another look.   With benchmarking, defragmenting and drive health, this may be one of the best defrag utilities available.

What makes it different?  You can physically see data move to the beginning of the drive and it DOES take time.  I truly believe it works better than other defrag utilities when we used it as a test on a virtual server where the defragmentation was only 1% – but data was scattered across the drive.   During its defragmentation process, it moved the data and took over two hours aligning the files to the beginning of the drive.   The speedup and performance could be seen.

Note: Before defragmenting a drive, utilities such as CCleaner should be used to remove any unwanted files.

Piriform’s most recent version 2.09 is loaded with dozens of options and is available for free at Piriform, the home of CCleaner.

A Quick overview is provided from the main menu screen.  This allows you to see your drives quick health, map and space information.

A more technical view is provided below including health, firmware, serial number and exact model number of the drive your are defragging.

Action Menu

  • Analyze (allows you to see the fragmentation status of your drive)
  • Defrag Drive (Full defragmentation of  drives – very thorough – prioritizing files and access – can take hours)
    If you want a truly defragged hard drive, this is the best option
  • Quick Defrag Drive (Defrags your drive moving files quicker – within minutes)
  • Defrag Folder (Used on folder that may contain many files that often change)
  • Defrag File  (Usually used on huge files that may be split or fragmented)
  • Advanced – Allows the Hard Drive to be tested and allows for defragmentation of Freespace

Settings Menu

  • Drive Map (Styles and Colors)
  • Schedule    (Once, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Startup or Logon)
  • Boot Time Defrag (Options for defragging on boot)
  • Priority
  • Shutdown

Options

Schedule

The scheduling goes above most defrag programs.   Defraggler allows for advanced configurations for individual drives and allows further options that allow limits and options that can conserve power.

The benchmarking program allows you to quickly benchmark your drive at any time.   To see how defragging your hard drive affects user experience, you should benchmark before and after.

Before

After a Quick Defrag

This quick defrag shows a reduction of 513 fragmentations however, the fragmentation remains at 6%.   A full defrag is of course more thorough and requires more time.   To finish my computer the final time was around two hours.  Did it make a difference?  Yes.   I could see a significant improvement (in my case) with VirtualBox.  Over a period of time while testing operating systems in VirtualBox, the .vdi files (2 Gb to 6 Gb) had been fragmented on my computer’s hard drive.

Here’s an example of the power if you have patience to wait during the defrag.  The hard drive below could be quickly defragged with other defragmentation software.   As you can see the data is all over the place and reported by other software as defragged but during defragmentation with Defraggler, it  is aligned.

        

Related article -

Test Your Hard Drive Speed With Windows 7′s Device Manager

Test your hard drive speed with Ubuntu’s Disk Utility

Want to Benchmark your hard drive with Ubuntu?  Click on Administration, Disk Utility, select your hard disk and click on Benchmark.  Select Read or Read/Write.

 

Test Your Hard Drive Speed With Windows 7′s Device Manager

Test Your Hard Drive Speed With Windows 7′s Device Manager

Don’t forget, the fastest hard drive without IPv6 ….check your network  info here

Partition your HDD to improve performance.  Web Server Example.

Do you have a SSD Drive?  Here’s the optimization tips.

Test Your Hard Drive Speed With Windows 7′s Device Manager – You can test your hard drive speed by going to the Device Manager, Expanding the Hard Drive Controllers, select the Port and Click on the Test button.  Make it Faster with (Free – See our Review) DiskMax and Defrag with Auslogics.

How about Roadkil.net’s Disk Speed?   A nice little program if your hard drive test isn’t listed under the device manager.

Also check your computer’s hard drive with CheckDiskGUI.

Parkdale


Measure your hard drive speed using Winsat

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When tweaking your computer, you can use typical utilities found in one of our most active posts or you can use Winsat.   Winsat will not give you fancy graphs but it will give a Windows rating and a time to complete specific tests.  This can be a way of measuring your drives between tweaks.

At a command prompt run the following tweak as an administrator:

winsat disk -drive c                 (you can substitute c with the drive letter of your choice)

ATTO – “The industry’s leading provider of high-performance storage connectivity products” has great products and an excellent benchmarking utility that measures your hard drive’s I/O read/write ability.

Here’s a quick look at a laptop with Windows 7 vs. Server 2008 R2

Dell’s latest 5520 inspiron laptop
6 Gb Memory
500 Gb (Seagate)

Benchmarking

Results

Results2

Server 2008 R2 Custom
8 Gb RAM
2 TB Seagate Hard drive

BenchmarkingServer

Results

ResultsServer

 

What about caching programs to speed you up even more?

I’m always cautious when I hear about caching programs.  Mickey sent me Bill Mullin’s link over to TechRepublic where Romex’s FancyCache is reviewed.

In its Beta release, FancyCache offers a simplex program that uses unused memory to boost the speed of your hard drive.  But does it work?  Yes.  My Dell Inspirion is already fast, but with FancyCache, programs do open quicker and the computer is even more responsive.  With the ability to tweak how I wanted to cache, I used 2gb of the 6gb of RAM on board in the settings.

The default settings alone were convincing enough to show how my computer sped up after a few minutes of use.   Although my computer is a 64bit laptop, the caching methods used and the read/write cache algorithms did boost performance.

FancyCache is certainly beneficial for 32 bit users who are locked in at 3gb of RAM.   FancyCache can take advantage of memory above this limit to speed up your computer.   And whether you do or don’t elect to install FancyCache, at least tweak your settings in a 32 bit computer to tweak your memory.  (See our Link)

The only problem I had was once I downloaded the software, it said it was expired.   A quick check on their website and keys can be obtained here.   The latest key is valid until July 2013.

Will I buy this product?  I’m not sure yet, time and use of Fancycache will tell.

Fancy

What about SSD Drives?   Are they faster?

Yes, ATTO on an OCZ Vertex 3

Notice this Benchmark compared to the Seagate 6 Gb/s (above) that was at 70 MB/s this is a 75% increase in speed.

SSD

How to measure your hard drive speed.

Phrases you may hear in IT

Check out AMD vs Intel Quad Core Standoff 64 bit Windows 7, 8 gb of RAM 500 gb Seagate Hard Drives

Overclock your Nvidia video card   … Link

Upgrading Your Hard Drives Firmware

Find updates for drivers to improve your hard drive speed!

Want to Benchmark your hard drive with Ubuntu?

Improve your laptop hard drive speed

Improve Hard Drive Performance in Windows 7

What’s a fast computer on a slow network?  Learn the basics of subnetting without using binary!

Take a look at how we optimize our computers…

See our review of Windows 8 and see how you can run 90% of your programs, virtualize other operating systems, use your network and more.

Check your hard drive with CheckDiskGUI  (Credit to Bill Mullins for finding this)

Now go and Tweak your wireless settings!

Collect detailed information about your drives and files.

What If I Have a SSD Drive?

Have you recently purchased and cloned your old HDD with a new SSD?  Here’s some tips. (Updated!)

  • Make sure your SATA controller is set to AHCI mode.
    Set AHCI mode in the BIOS if this is not enabled and make changes to the registry (first)
    AHCI is needed for native TRIM support in Windows 7.  This allows TRIM to do its job

Device Manager

  • Click on the Start
  • Control Panel
  • Device manager
  • IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers
  • Do you see the AHCI controller?

How do you enable AHCI?

Before doing the process below,  see if your BIOS has AHCI capabilities (Windows 7)

  1. Open Registry Editor and move down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci.
  2. Right click on the Start DWORD and click on Modify.
  3. Set the value to 0 and click OK.
  4. Reboot your computer and enable the AHCI setting the BIOS.  Another restart will be required to finish the driver installation.

 

The next step is to enable TRIM. Type the following command in a command prompt to enable TRIM:

fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

Next, turn off Defragmentation.  These drives should not be defragged.

Next, turn off indexing.  This causes unnecessary writes.

Next, Click on Start  -Right-Click Computer – Manage – Services and Applications – Services -Right-Click Windows Search – Properties  Find the Startup type – Select Disabled – Click OK.

(The above disables the “search indexer”)

Windows Search

Next

Click on Start – Computer – Right click on your SSD – Properties – Uncheck Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties – Click OK.

Drive Index

Next

  1. Right Click on Computer and select Manage
  2. Click on Device Manager
  3. Expand Disk Drives
  4. Right click on the hard drive and select Properties for that hard drive (you can also double click the drive
  5. On the Policies tab:
    Check Turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing on the device
  6. Hit OK and close the Device Manager

Next, if you have 6 GB of RAM or more, disable the page file if it is the only drive.  If you have a second drive, point the Paging file at the other non-SSD drive

Finally disable Superfetch and Prefetch on the drive (Official Microsoft Article)

Click on Start Menu – Right-Click Computer – Properties – Advanced System Settings – Advanced Tab – Performance Settings – Advanced Tab – Click Change under Virtual Memory – Uncheck Automatically manage paging file size for all drives – Click on No paging file – Click Set – OK – Restart your computer. (Always check your pc to see if the 6 GB or more is OK. This will be based on programs that are running)

Check for the latest firmware!

SUMMARY

Load Windows Server or Windows 7 on the SSD drive.  Optimize the SSD and complete these actions.

  • Open a command prompt and “Run as administrator”. Next, type in the command “Fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify”
    This will take care of TRIM
  • Don’t defrag the drive (SSD)
  • Turn off indexing
  • Disable Superfetch and Prefetch on the drive (Official Microsoft Article)
  • Move the pagefile to one of the mechanical drives
  • Install programs to other drives on Windows Server
  • Small databases such as Quickbooks or Access databases can be used on the SSD 
    (If you have thousands of logins to your shared database daily, consider moving the databases to one of the storage drives)
  • Ensure your computer has AHCI enabled in the BIOS AND in the Registry (Make sure you enable in the registry first AFTER verifying your BIOS supports AHCI)

While you’re at it, optimize your CPU

https://ttcshelbyville.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/what-is-core-parking-and-should-you-adjust-it/

Partition your hard drive for optimization

Gamers and IT professionals along with home users that are power users can significantly improve HDD performance by shrinking the partitions on their HDDs.

By using the Disk Management utility in Windows you can shrink large HDDs as needed to increase performance.

How does this work?

For optimal system performance on an IIS server, you should install Windows and IIS on one drive and data on another drive.  When you install Windows, you can partition the entire drive with the full amount and use disk management to shrink the drive later OR you can give yourself enough space +30% for temp files (etc.).  By shrinking the drive, this optimizes the drive by not only placing files where they should go but allows the drive to become efficient by having only a certain amount to index and read.

The same should be done for the data drive.  You can extend the partition as data grows and space is needed.

Hopefully my math is right on the percentages…

Windows IIS Partition (Before and After)

Western Digital Black Edition WDC2002FAEX 2TB

HD Tune 5.0 (read test)      FULL 2 TB partition        Shrank to 1 TB     Increase or Decrease
Average transfer rate

80.1 MBps

119.9 MBps

34.2%

Minimum transfer rate

42.2 MBps

50.0 MBps

16.00%

Maximum transfer rate

123.4 MBps

143.1 MBps

14.8%

Burst rate

184.6 MBps

197.3 MBps

6.50%

Access time*

13.2 ms

10.1 ms

24.00%

Data Drive (Before and After)

HD Tune 5.0 (read test)      FULL 2 TB partition        Shrank to 1 TB     Increase or Decrease
Average transfer rate

94.1 MBps

113.9 MBps

17.4%

Minimum transfer rate

48.7 MBps

69.3 MBps

29.8%

Maximum transfer rate

131.4 MBps

143.3 MBps

8.3%

Burst rate

189.8 MBps

190.7 MBps

.50%

Access time*

11.2 ms

9.6 ms

14.3%

IIS using HD Tune 2.55

IIS

Data Drive using HD Tune 2.55

Data

Test your HDD Software (Freeware)

Notes:

Partitioning SSD drives will show a gain, but because of the economics behind SSDs at this time, it may not be economically feasible.  SSD drives can be optimized in other ways.

Linux and Apple drives can be optimized by partitioning.

Golden Rule – Do not use the unallocated amount.  Save it for growth or files that are not accessed often.

How to Shrink or Extend a partition